Pro Bowl  

 

Rookie Young comfortable at Pro Bowl

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  • By Vic Carucci
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KAPOLEI, Hawaii -- Vince Young doesn't carry himself as someone who should feel fortunate to be here.

Quite the contrary.

The dynamic rookie quarterback for the Tennessee Titans "always" believed that he had a chance to make it to the Pro Bowl.

"Because I knew how hard I wanted to work to get here," Young said.

Don't waste his time discussing the obstacles he overcame to get here. Young doesn't care that he didn't become a starter until Week 4 or that his completion percentage (51.5) was worst among starting quarterbacks in 2006 or that he threw more interceptions (13) than touchdowns (12). He doesn't care that the only reason he even has a spot on the AFC squad is because San Diego's Philip Rivers had to pull out because of an injury and that other quarterbacks either declined an invitation or were injured.

All Young knows is that he did enough good things -- such as running for 552 yards and seven touchdowns and leading the Titans on a six-game winning streak to get them within a game of a playoff berth -- to earn league Rookie of the Year honors and that the tremendous versatility and knack for taking over a game that he showed at the University of Texas translated well to the NFL.

Vince Young was a late addition to the AFC roster, but he could be making many more Pro Bowl trips. Asked to share the biggest lesson he learned in his first pro season, Young didn't hesitate with the following answer: "That I can play on this level. It's the same game (at which he excelled in college), just a little quicker."

The turning point of Young's rookie year came in Week 16, when he threw for two touchdowns and ran for a third to help the Titans overcome a 29-20 deficit in the final 12 minutes for a 30-29 victory over the Buffalo Bills in windy conditions at Ralph Wilson Stadium. It was the fourth comeback he had led in the fourth quarter or overtime in his brief NFL career.

"Oh, yeah," he said. "Every week I was getting better and better, just excelling a whole bunch. And I just felt, the week before (facing Buffalo), our defense did a good job against Jacksonville and that they needed us to take over as an offense to win one.

"I had a good week of practice. My mindset was to go out there and make it happen, and that's what I did."

Young, who will share playing time at quarterback with the Colts' Peyton Manning and the Bengals' Carson Palmer, has enjoyed every moment of the Pro Bowl experience. He is especially happy with the treatment he has received from the other players.

"Lot of respect, lot of respect, lot of respect," he said.

"I'm just glad he's on my team now," Indianapolis wide receiver Reggie Wayne said of Young. "He's a freak out there. He's got all the skills. Obviously, I've been on the opposite side of some big runs and some big throws that he's made. He's got a bright future now. I hate that we've got to see him two times a year."

"He's had a great start to his career," Manning said. "He went from not playing early and then coming in and playing and the team kind of really rallied around him. What a great young talent. He's a guy that really seems like he wants to be a consistent quarterback every year and seems really intent to work hard. I'm pulling for him."

But Manning is the first to admit there are limits to his exuberance over Young's progress.

"I'm not totally excited about the Titans being a great team next year because that would be bad news for the Colts," he said.

Young is looking forward to the Titans bringing the newly crowned Super Bowl champions and the rest of their competition as much bad news as possible in the years ahead.

"Playoffs, Super Bowls," said Young, Tennessee's lone representative in the Pro Bowl. "It's only going to get better and better for not only myself but for my teammates as well. Next year there are going to be more Titan guys out here."

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